Super grumpy in a hotel in Boston. Harlan wakes up at 7:00, aka 4am our time and decided to get a cup of coffee. Can’t find the key so he wakes me up to help him search the room. I can’t fall back to sleep. Then we get a wake up call we didn’t order. Then boo wakes up for his 4am boob time. Grumpy, tired, hungry mama and something seems wrong with my computer. It’s plugged in but not charging, still got a 0% charged battery. Upside: Harlan’s back and sleeping in the king size with his hand thrown over boo, supreme cuteness, wish it was light enough to take a picture.
We flew for the first time with boo yesterday. Preparation was insanity. Printed out a checklist from the internet. Snacks, extra blankets, 1-2 outfits per day, new toys he’d never seen before to enthrall him on the flight, old toys in case he’s one of those babies who won’t fall for the new toys trick. Borrowed cold weather clothes from a friend (and borrowed toys he’d never seen before), baby sudafed in case he cried from congestion. Thought we’d be able to get his stuff and mine into one suitcase – ha, his suitcase was the biggest, most stuffed of all. There was a debate on baby carriers. Boo hated the ergo when he was little. Screamed his head off, didn’t want to be confined. We found relief in the Bjorn. His arms and legs were free, he could look forward, see the world. Recently we stuck him in a friend’s Ergo and he didn’t mind it, so we got ours back from the friend we’d lent it to and thought we should take it on the trip. It’s easier to carry, thought he’d be able to sleep in it on the plane. But he still loves to see the world from a Bjorn. We brought both.
From the minute we started packing, boo was fascinated. Huge bags full of stuff all over the house. Grandma and grandpa make an appearance at our place at 8am. He’s dressed and ready for action instead of stuck in a pack and play while we make breakfast and feed the cats. We set off on a car ride, kiss grandpa goodbye. At the airport I put him in the ergo and he arched his back, leaning all the way back to stare at the ceiling—still wanting to look forward, like in the Bjorn, even if it means arching backwards—obsessed with a big black pipe that ran the length of the Virgin America desk. Fascinated with the employees, the other passengers, the escalators, the snaps on the straps of the Ergo. On the plane he was a dream. Scrambled all over mommy and daddy, especially loved daddy’s seatbelt buckle, fell in love with the woman sitting on Harlan’s other side, showed off for her his prowess flicking daddy’s seatbelt buckle.
I watched this guy in front of me and across the aisle with fascination. He immediately went online once we were in the air, went to Netflix to catch up on all the Daily Shows and Colbert Rapports he’d missed, live chatted with some friends. While I read boo Good Night Gorilla fourteen times and prayed eventually he’d nap with a boob in his mouth so I could watch Marley and Me in peace. Eventually he did: fell asleep nursing, his head cocked to one side, his mouth wide open, his face the picture of peacefulness. Watched the movie, loved it, it’s not cloying, not sappy, not really even about a naughty dog. The dog’s a character, a prop, a sidekick, a muse, a symbol—of unconditional love, of selflessness, of everything worth sacrificing for. The movie? It’s about my life.
Boo woke up once, sweat-drenched hair plastered to his forehead, and cried like a newborn. I put the boob back in his mouth and he slept suckling for another half an hour. When he woke up again, he was ready for action. The new toys and old ones all whacked me in the face (hard, that boy’s got an arm on him), went flying down the aisle. My mom picked them up, the flight attendants, everyone sitting on an aisle for three seats in either direction. We banned new toys, only let him read books and play with his monkey, cause it’s soft and doesn’t make too much noise when hurled. A walk up the aisle with daddy, the belt buckle, his cute college student crush. A new little dance he does, shaking his head yes, shaking it no, the airplane boogie, when I sing, when I don’t, when he feels an inner tune or a jolt of turbulence.
I think we have a fantastic traveler on our hands. Only time he cried was that one time when he woke up and when I changed his diaper on Harlan’s seat and even I understand why that was demeaning.
And then we got to Boston. And it was one disaster after another. First we couldn’t find an escalator leading to baggage claim and lugged our crap down the stairs. Then we had to walk the entire length of the terminal to get our luggage, me with untied shoelaces, afraid I’d drop boo. Then Harlan’s credit card didn’t work to get us a cart. Luggage came out quickly, I changed boo on a koala contraption, he squirmed off the changing pad and made it an unsanitary, athletic affair. We jumped on a courtesy car to Alamo. Went smoothly enough. Got a carseat, but they didn’t have an instruction booklet to match. Harlan and my mom painstakingly figured out how to install it while I nursed boo in the front seat. In our cute, spacious Kia SUV we made our way downtown. I was filled with dread: it hitting me that we might move to this strange city with its oddly squat skyline and semi-functional airport where everything started to go wrong for us. I had trouble breathing. Boo held my had for the entire car trip, staring philosophically out the window at the walls of the long tunnel that took us into town, the lights of the city, the Chinese signs leading us to the Doubletree Hilton, the hotel where you never should stay in Boston.
It costs $36 a day to park at our hotel. I bristled, thought maybe we shouldn’t have gotten a car. At the desk learned my mom’s room cost $20 more a night than we’d expected. Waited endlessly for an elevator before a clerk directed us to another one that put us farther from our room. My mom realized she’d lost her carry-on. We wheeled our luggage from the elevator, only to learn that our rooms were another flight of stairs away. Harlan and my mom lugged while I got boo into our mediocre room with a crappy little shower (no tub for boo), let him roam, ecstatic about the king-size bed, and tried to get online to find the number for Alamo. Turns out they charge you $10 a day for Wifi. So I called information on my cell and eventually got through. They had my mom’s carry-on. I ate half a complimentary chocolate chip cookie even though I’m doing the candida diet cause I was delusional with hunger. I had an allergy attack: scratchy throat, itchy eyes. A guy who didn’t speak much English came in with a dingy pack and play for boo. He couldn’t figure out how to set it up and asked for my help. He didn’t bring a sheet. “You want sheet?” Uh, yeah, I want sheet, I’m going to lay my baby’s sweet cheeks down in that cheap, plastic-polyester blend cage of yours. He went to fetch one. Harlan waited while my mom and I headed down to the hotel bar to order dinner.
We got salads, fed boo baby food, a banana and rice cakes, which he devoured. I was so negative at this point, reading everything that had happened as a bad signs, thinking every goddamn person I saw in this town was a walking fashion disaster, nothing but fleece. Boo shouted for one thing after another: a spoon, a bite of banana, the little cups they’d brought me olive oil and lemon juice in. He had to have them. I cleaned them out and handed them over and he proceeded to bang them against the table, my plate, making a racket.
A woman at the bar swung around and asked how old he was. “Wow, he is so verbal for one.” “Yeah, but he’s not making a lot of sense yet,” I said. “”Sure, but he knows exactly what he’s saying and you understand him. He’s verbalizing much more like a two year old.” I beamed. We talked to her for a long time. She was from Seattle, like Harlan, and had lived in Venice, in New York. Now she lives in a small beach town south of Boston, was waiting for her sixteen year old daughter who was having surgery across the street. I dug her energy, loved how honest she was when she told us she hated it here. She said maybe if they’d moved to Cambridge instead she’d feel different about the place, but now she just misses the West Coast. Boo began to melt down so I shook the nice woman’s hand and headed up to the room. He was delighted when his teddy bear, lamb and lama burst from the strange suitcase lying on the floor.
As I nursed him I felt glum, like we were going into exile, thinking about the fact that no one like us lives in Boston, no one in the film biz, anyway, definitely not Jennifer Aniston or Owen Wilson. Then Harlan came up to bed after another hour or so and told me they’d talked for a long time. Turns out our new friend is married to a well-known filmmaker whose work gives me great pleasure. She gave us her contact information because she’d like to hook me up with some of her friends, screenwriters who would probably be interested in starting a writing group with a west coast writer like myself.
That seemed like a good sign. Our first night, in our crappy hotel, we met a really nice woman a lot like us who, in addition to being really cool, has writer friends she wants to hook me up with and just happens to be married to Hollywood royalty. And she lives in Boston, well, outside of Boston. And she likes us and wants to be our friend. There’s at least one cool person in Boston and we met her. Like I’ve always said, we’re adaptable and we always make new friends. I went to sleep thinking maybe there’s hope here for us after all.